Reusse: Don't be fooled by Wild's finish

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 8, 2012 - 8:08 AM

Victories after its playoff fate was decided can't hide the fact that the team's offense remained nonexistent.


The Wild brought in Devin Setoguchi (10) for more scoring punch, but he only had 19 goals through 68 games.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

Gene Mauch resigned as Twins manager on Aug. 24, 1980. The team was 54-71 at the time. Mauch, 54, was nearing the end of his fifth season in Minnesota and saw it as a dead-end situation.

Johnny Goryl, the third base coach, was named interim manager. The Twins went 23-13 with Goryl and moved from sixth to third place in the seven-team American League West. Included was a 12-game winning streak from Sept. 19 through Oct. 3.

Goryl, 46, was named as full-time manager and the Twins talked optimistically of building off the strong finish.

There's nothing more meaningless in professional team sports than winning some games late in a lost season, and the Twins proved that quickly in 1981.

They started 11-25 and Goryl was fired, replaced by his third base coach, Billy (Slick) Gardner. That was the season split into two parts, with the Twins finishing 17-39 and last in the first "half,'' and 24-29 and fourth in the second.

The moral of this flashback: Any interested party -- owner, coaches, players, fans or media -- embracing optimism based on this brief, late-season sign of life from the Wild is mining fool's gold.

The 2011-12 Wild rates among the major flops in the 45 years that the Twin Cities has been a full-service pro sports market. I date that to the debut of the North Stars in 1967; we've been in at least three of the four major leagues since then.

The Wild had won 20 of 30 games through Dec. 10. It was leading the NHL with 43 points. One thing evident since the NHL added three-point games to the mix in 2005: With that free point available for losing in 4-on-4 overtime or a shootout, it is more difficult to make up a deficit in the NHL playoff race than in any other major sport.

The Skating W's beat the odds by going in the tank for 3 1/2 months. They were buried in the playoff race earlier than in 2010-11, a 39-win, 86-point season that got Todd Richards fired immediately after it was over.

That had to be this season's low point, by the way, a pair of losses on Feb. 7 and 11 to Columbus, with Richards serving as the interim coach for the hapless Blue Jackets.

This was astounding ineptitude:

Starting Dec. 13 and through March 27, the Wild won 11 of 46 games. It was 4-7 in shootouts and overtime, meaning the W's had a record of 7-28 in regulation over a period of 14 weeks.

The Wild had four shootout/overtime victories in the previous five games heading into Saturday night's season finale. Phoenix cruised to a 4-1 victory that left the Wild with 35 wins and 81 points.

The St. Paul lads also finished with seven regulation victories in their final 52 games.

Is it possible to get your head around that? Fifty-two games, four months of hockey, and the team that once led the NHL in points managed to win seven times without the gimmicks of a shootout or 4-on-4 overtime.

In Saturday's Star Tribune, we also learned from hockey writer Michael Russo that the Wild was set to become the lowest-scoring team in the NHL since the 2004-05 lockout. The significance of that is that the NHL, in addition to adding shootouts, declared that it would open up the game with a crackdown on interference and other changes.

The Wild wound up with 166 actual goals (not counting goals added for shootout wins). Dang ... Jacques Lemaire's expansion team in 2000-01 rarely came out of the trap and it had 168 goals.

Basically, this collection has averaged two goals per game with the in-your-face pressure promised by coach Mike Yeo.

The Wild finished first in the Northwest Division in 2008, then was upset in six games by Colorado in the first round. The W's haven't been in the 16-team tournament since -- a distinction shared with Dallas, Edmonton, Toronto, the New York Islanders and Winnipeg (previously Atlanta).

What the Wild fans who still want to believe will say is that there's a wave of young talent on the doorstep. Fair enough, but if you run into anyone from Edmonton, you might ask how that's worked out for the Oilers.

Every summer, we hear about the Oilers adding another "unbelievable'' talent in the draft, and every winter we see them buried deep in the standings ... even deeper than the punchless crew in St. Paul.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM.

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions


Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
TBA 1/3/15 2:00 AM
Toronto 110 FINAL
LA Clippers 98
Boston 67 4th Qtr 8:28
Washington 87
Orlando 86 4th Qtr 9:34
Charlotte 73
Memphis 57 3rd Qtr
Miami 41
Indiana 32 2nd Qtr 8:18
Brooklyn 29
New Orleans 32 2nd Qtr 6:19
Chicago 33
Atlanta 13 1st Qtr 7:34
Milwaukee 3
Philadelphia 8:00 PM
New York 9:00 PM
Minnesota 9:30 PM
Golden State
NY Islanders 3 3rd Prd
Buffalo 0
Detroit 1 3rd Prd
Ottawa 2
Carolina 0 3rd Prd
Tampa Bay 1
New Jersey 1 3rd Prd
NY Rangers 2
Boston 2 2nd Prd :01
Columbus 5
Winnipeg 1 3rd Prd
Minnesota 1
Washington 1 2nd Prd 11:02
Pittsburgh 0
Dallas 2 2nd Prd
St. Louis 2
Philadelphia 0 2nd Prd
Nashville 1
Anaheim 1 2nd Prd
Arizona 1
Chicago 8:00 PM
Edmonton 9:00 PM
San Jose 9:00 PM
Los Angeles
Indiana 87 FINAL
Georgetown 91
Maine 43 FINAL
Seton Hall 72
UNC-Wilmington 82 FINAL
Minnesota 108
Georgia State 61 FINAL
Green Bay 78
Jacksonville St 61 FINAL
Jacksonville 75
Kentucky 58 FINAL
Louisville 50
Northern Ky 55 FINAL
Northwestern 76
North Carolina 89
Pepperdine 53
Santa Clara 60 FINAL
St Marys-CA 73
Oakland 56 FINAL
Maryland 72
Gonzaga 87 FINAL
BYU 80
Mercer 77 FINAL
Georgia 86
San Francisco 77 FINAL
Pacific 71
Wright State 53 2nd Half 2:41
Ohio State 94
Presbyterian 52 2nd Half 7:17
Virginia Tech 71
Brescia 18 2nd Half
Western Ky 40
Tennessee St 10 1st Half 11:31
Tennessee 13
Kennesaw St 8:00 PM
Colorado State 8:00 PM
New Mexico St
Portland 8:00 PM
San Diego
Wayland Baptist 8:05 PM
Utah State
Bristol University 8:05 PM
Weber State
Sacramento St 8:05 PM
Utah Valley U
Southern Utah 9:00 PM
SD Christian 9:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 18 FINAL
Louisiana Tech 35
Rutgers 40 FINAL
North Carolina 21
NC State 34 FINAL
UCF 27
Cincinnati 17 FINAL
Virginia Tech 33
(15) Arizona State 36 FINAL
Duke 31
Miami-Florida 21 FINAL
So Carolina 24
Boston College 30 FINAL
Penn State 31
(25) Nebraska 10 1st Qtr 6:05
(24) USC 10
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
Houston 1/2/15 11:00 AM
Iowa 1/2/15 2:20 PM
(11) Kansas State 1/2/15 5:45 PM
(14) UCLA
Washington 1/2/15 9:15 PM
Oklahoma State
East Carolina 1/3/15 11:00 AM
(2) Connecticut 96
Houston 50
Gonzaga 78
Pacific 92 FINAL
San Francisco 54
St Marys-CA 62 FINAL
Santa Clara 61
San Diego 33 1st Half 2:01
Portland 21
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters





question of the day

Poll: Who is your favorite pro sports coach in the Twin Cities?

Weekly Question